A Formal Apology for Metaphysics

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5 (2018)
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There is an old meta-philosophical worry: very roughly, metaphysical theories have no observational consequences and so the study of metaphysics has no value. The worry has been around in some form since the rise of logical positivism in the early twentieth century but has seen a bit of a renaissance recently. In this paper, I provide an apology for metaphysics in the face of this kind of concern. The core of the argument is this: pure mathematics detaches from science in much the same manner as metaphysics and yet it is valuable nonetheless. The source of value enjoyed by pure mathematics extends to metaphysics as well. Accordingly, if one denies that metaphysics has value, then one is forced to deny that pure mathematics has value. The argument places an added burden on the sceptic of metaphysics. If one truly believes that metaphysics is worthless (as some philosophers do), then one must give up on pure mathematics as well.

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Sam Baron
University of Melbourne

Citations of this work

Why Composition Matters.Andrew M. Bailey & Andrew Brenner - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (8):934-949.
Mereological Composition in Analytic and Buddhist Perspective.Nicholaos Jones - 2021 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (2):173-194.

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The extended mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
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Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
On what grounds what.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.
Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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